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Possible revival of PBDS sends jitters

 | August 26, 2013

Rumours that the Registrar of Societies has approved five new political parties in Sarawak has got Parti Rakyat Sarawak questioning its rationale.

KUCHING: More than 100,000 hardcore members of the deregistered Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) who have remained partyless since October 2004 may see its the return in the form of Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDS Baru).

But rumours of the Registrar of Societies having approved PBDS Baru has, however, sent shockwaves and fears among Dayak-based Barisan Nasional component parties, especially Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) which is led by Land Development Minister James Masing.

PRS is a splinter of PBDS. It was formed the day PBDS was deregistered — Oct 24, 2004 — following an unresolved leadership crisis between then party founder Daniel Tajem’s group and Masing’s faction. Bulk of PRS members at the time were from PBDS.

Over the years former members of PBDS have also joined Sarawak Progressive Democrative Party (SPDP) and PBB’s Pesaka wing. Together they currently hold sway over the rural Dayak community.

Expressing concern over PBDS Baru’s rumoured registration, PRS secretary-general Wilfred Nissom questioned ROS’ rationale for approving the party at a time when there are already sufficient political parties for the Dayaks.

“Is it a fact that PBDS Baru has been registered? Of the many political parties waiting for registration, the ROS seems rather quick to approve the one that has the potential to weaken PRS, now the only stable Dayak-based party (in Sarawak BN).

“Before the 13th general election, Sarawak Workers Party got approval after a short wait. Now, it is PBDS Baru,” he said.

Nissom said there seemed to be people who think that the political and economic progress of the Dayaks and rural communities could best be promoted only by having many Dayak-based political parties competing for the rural constituencies.

“The BN ‘fixed deposit’ in Sarawak lies in the rural constituencies. It is hard to see how fragmenting Dayak votes can protect the BN ‘fixed deposit,” he said.

Meanwhile, a former PRS supreme council member Joseph Allen said PRS had nothing to fear from the emergence of PBDS Baru “if PRS has served the people well”.

“If anything, PRS should be scared of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) which is making an all-out effort to go rural.

“If you have delivered on your promises, if you have stood by to protect the interest of the Dayaks, why are you so scared of the new party?

“The problem with PRS is that it is never changing — the same people continue to hold office since it was formed in October 2004,” Allen said.

Targeting partyless Dayak

Although yet unofficial, it is reliably learnt from sources in ROS that the ‘PBDS Baru’ is one of the five new parties from Sarawak whose registration has been approved.

The sources said the respective leaders could expect to receive their letters “anytime now”.

The other four parties are said to be Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK) submitted in August 2011, Parti Ekonomi Rakyat Sarawak Bersatu (PERSB) submitted in 2010, Party Peace (submitted in 2010) and another party submitted by a Chinese group.

PBDS was formed in September 1983 by Tajem and his supporters after they were sacked from Sarawak National Party (SNAP).

Once it was registered, they asked Leo Moggie to be the first president, while Tajem was his deputy. Edmund Langgu, a former state assemblyman was appointed the secretary-general.

During the height of its glory, PBDS had close to 200,000 members with 15 state assemblymen.

However, due to an unsolvable leadership crisis between Tajem’s group and Masing’s faction it was deregistered on October 24, 2004. The crisis also gave birth to PRS.

When contacted by FMT, a pro tem committee member of the new PBDS said: “Some of the members have now joined BN parties like PRS and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party while some have joined the opposition. But more than 100,000 hardcore members have remained partyless.

“It is these partyless Dayaks that we are targeting and hoping to be our members.”

‘PBDS still a BN member’

The committee member, who declined to be named, said it was this 100,000 members that PBDS Baru would target so that it “can be truly the logical substitute or successor to the old PBDS”.

He also pointed out that although PBDS was deregistered, it was still a member of the BN coalition.

“We were neither kicked out from BN nor left BN on our own accord,” he said.

He added that once the pro tem committee received the official letter from ROS, they would call for a meeting so that “we can chart the future plan and direction of the party.”

“Our main task will be to recruit as many as possible of the remnants of the deregistered PBDS and the former leaders and members of the last supreme council members.

He also welcomed members of the G5 to join PBDS Baru if they found it difficult to join any of the existing component parties of Barisan Nasional.

The G5 leaders who were expelled from SPDP comprise Peter Nansian (Tasik Biru),
Sylvester Entri (Marudi), Paulus Palu Gumbang (Batu Danau), Rosey Yunus (Bekenu) and the former MP for Mas Gading Tiki Lafe.

PBDS Baru prot tem president Louis Jarau when contacted said that it was still too early to comment on the party.

“For now, it is too early to say anything. We will wait until we have received ‘black and white’ from ROS before we can say anything,” he said.

Meanwhile, a number of Dayak professionals are closely watching the latest development.

Said a local lecturer: “The registration of PBDS Baru really generates great interest among professionals.

“The new party will bring in a new political dimension that will provide an alternative choice to the existing rural based-parties.”


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